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Basic Hand Stitches

sewing techniques

These are the most common hand stitches used for joining two pieces of fabric together, either temporarily or permanently.

Basting stitch

basting stitch illustration

This stitch is used to hold pieces of fabric temporarily in place until they have been sewn together permanently. Basting stitches are removed once the permanent stitching is complete. It's a good idea to use a contrasting colour of thread, so that you can see it easily. Knot the thread and work a long running stitch through all layers of fabric.


slipstitch illustration

This stitch is almost invisible and is an easy method of hemming. It is also used to close openings-for example, when you've left a gap in a seam so that you can turn the garment right side out. It is generally worked from right to left, but it can be worked from left to right if that feels more comfortable.

Slide the needle between the two pieces of fabric, bringing it out on the edge of the top fabric so that the knot in the thread is hidden between the two layers. Pick up one or two threads from the base fabric, then bring the needle up a shore distance along, on the edge a of the top fabric, and pull it through. Repeat as needed.

Running stitch

running stitch illustration

Running stitch is probably the simplest hand stitch of all. It is often used to gather a strip of fabric into a ruffle, and also for embroidery. It is worked from right to left, but you can work from left to right if that feels more comfortable. Bring the needle up through the fabric and back down several times, then pull the needle and thread through and repeat, taking care to keep the stitches the same size.


For more beginner's sewing tips, check out our video tutorials by Wendy Ward.


Once you've mastered the basics, why not put your new skills to the test with the fun costumes in Sewing Dress-Up by Emma Hardy.


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